Many people go to the dentist not just because they want good oral health, but also because having a great smile is a good confidence booster and makes them more likely to smile more often. But it also impacts those who see that dazzling smile.
“Every day we see people who tell us about how their friends, family and business colleagues are also affected by their new smiles,” says Dr. Ana Castilla, an orthodontist and author of the book The Smile of Your Life: Everything You Need to Know for Your Orthodontic Journey (www.castillaortho.com). “They are just more willing to smile, and they didn’t anticipate how much that would impact others in their life.”
Studies have shown that people believe smilers are reliable, relaxed and sincere. A study published in the journal Journal of Neuropsychology reported that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates the orbitofrontal cortex, the region in the brain that processes sensory rewards. This suggests that when someone sees a person smiling, they feel rewarded.
As a result, Dr. Castilla says some of the things a smile can do for you include:
Make you more attractive. “Your smile is your best accessory,” Castilla says. “Studies have shown that people who smile are automatically viewed as more attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. Seeing an attractive face can be considered a rewarding stimulus, and when a person sees a smiling face, the region of their brain that processes sensory rewards is activated significantly more than when viewing a non-smiling face.”
Relieve stress and boost your mood. Science has shown that smiling increases your health and happiness, not just at the moment, but even in the long run, Castilla says. “The more you smile, the healthier and happier you will be,” she says. How so? When you smile, your brain releases signaling molecules called neuropeptides to the rest of your body, she says. These neuropeptides influence your brain, body, and behavior in many ways, including reducing stress, aiding sleep, and elevating your mood.
Lower your blood pressure. When you smile your brain also releases feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. These chemicals calm your nervous system by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. “It’s great to know that even when you skip out on going to the gym, you can still work on your health by smiling away,” Castilla says. “Although I don’t recommend skipping the gym.”
Help you make others happy. Smiling not only has the power to elevate your mood, but it can also change the moods of others. “If you’re grumpy or rude, then you’re likely to put others in a bad mood or even put them off,” Castilla says. “The same thing happens with laughter and smiling. What happens when you smile at someone? They smile back, of course. Even babies know what to do. Smile at a baby and they will smile right back at you.”
“A beautiful smile is so much more than just straight teeth,” Castilla says. “It is health, confidence and joy. It is what you display during the happiest moments of your life, such as when you graduate from school, get married, or your child is born. It is a reflection of your spirit, and make no mistake, it can change your life.”
Dr. Ana Castilla is an orthodontist and the author of the book Smile of Your Life: Everything You Need to Know for Your Orthodontic Journey (www.castillaortho.com). Dr. Castilla is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and is dedicated to both education and research in the field of orthodontics. Her research on indirect-bonding techniques has been published in the Angle Orthodontist journal. Dr. Castilla was born in Ecuador and grew up in the United States.